Pay for your own day care

Posted: Oct 05, 2000 12:00 AM
In San Diego, they've turned the public schools into full-service baby sitters at a cost of more than $15 million per year. The program is called "6 to 6." Every elementary and middle school student is eligible for sun-up to sundown care. Well, why not? The kids already get breakfast, lunch, Ritalin, and condoms in class. Might as well give 'em dinner and a movie, to boot. On a recent CNN report gushing over the San Diego program, a parent named Paula Ball, whose child is enrolled in 6 to 6, said: "It gives you a little more quality time at home. You're not so stressed and pressured to get all this homework done. You can have a little more time to relax and enjoy your child." What a sad and selfish sentiment. When I was growing up, some of the highest "quality time" spent with Mom and Dad over the years was the time spent doing homework -- learning the alphabet, struggling over multiplication tables, memorizing state capitals, sharing poetry, and sweating over physics problems. If you'd rather leave the hard work to someone else so you can "relax and enjoy" your time at home, don't have kids. Go buy an aquarium instead. Taxpayer-funded day care -- don't you just cringe when the do-gooders call it "free"? -- encourages drive-through, drop-off parenting. Subsidizing this phenomenon cheats children, undermines family responsibilities, and breeds resentment among childless workers who are forced to pay for costly social services. Nevertheless, city, state, and federal government sources cover an estimated 40 percent of the nation's child-care expenses. And new tax-and-spending sprees for the children seem to be all the rage across the country: -- Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore would add to the current federal child-care tax credit by steering $38 million to families earning up to $60,000 a year. Gore is also wildly enamored of creating universal preschool programs, moving us one more step forward toward the village collective system in China -- where "quality child care" means handing off your babies to the government before they can crawl. -- Denver will vote in November on Initiative 1A, a 0.2 percent sales tax increase that would generate $30 million a year to pay for subsidized day care, before- and after-school programs, parenting classes, and public health clinics (more Ritalin and condoms!) for all public schools. -- In New York this year, the state earmarked $62 million in additional subsidy funding for day care and New York City set aside $25 million to build new child-care facilities. -- In Seattle, the county council allocated $1.5 million to artificially boost the salaries of day-care workers. In San Francisco, Mayor Willie Brown set aside nearly $12 million to pay city child-care workers a $9-an-hour minimum wage. -- California, Florida, Massachusetts, Tennessee, and South Carolina provide public support to round-the-clock child-care centers, where parents pay strangers to make sure their kids brush their teeth in the morning, do their homework in the afternoon, and say their prayers before bedtime. In Orange County, Calif., and Connecticut, Internet companies provide high-priced Webcam services to schools, preschools, and child-care centers so parents can monitor their tykes on the computer. Parenting-by-modem. Can we sink any further? I don't want to be forced to pay for other people's retirement and health care. In turn, those taxpayers shouldn't be forced to pay for my 3-month-old daughter's child-care expenses. I choose to stay and work at home. It's the best 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week, 365-days-a-year child-care arrangement on the planet. More parents would be able to make this same choice if our caring government would stop creating so many cradle-to-grave benefits that require higher taxes and longer working hours. Nanny State caretakers say they merely want to help working parents and reduce hardships through free institutional day care. But if moms and dads aren't willing to make personal and financial sacrifices for their children, why should anyone else?